LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. -- After waking up at 4 a.m. MST and flying from Tucson, Ariz., to Phoenix, to Ontario, Calif., Matt Palmer showed up 45 minutes before he had to pitch the Padres' final Spring Training game on Wednesday.
After the whirlwind morning of travel, Palmer allowed an unearned run in four innings in a 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Pete Lehr Field, the ballpark of the Padres' high-A farm team, the Lake Elsinore Storm. He struck out two and walked one.
Afterwards, Palmer was planning to catch a 7 p.m. PT flight back to Arizona. He'll pitch in the Triple-A Tucson Padres' rotation this season.
Palmer's flight into Ontario landed at 12:30 p.m., and after a $120 cab ride and a stop for tacos, arrived at the ballpark around 1:10 p.m. for the 2:05 p.m. start.
"I'm just glad I was here," Palmer said. "It doesn't matter what time I got up or how long it took me to get in. The biggest thing is I'm healthy coming out of the game, and I can go and do my business the way I'm supposed to."
Palmer is 13-7 with a 4.52 ERA in 60 Major League games in his career. He last pitched in the Majors in 2011 with the Angels. He was in Spring Training with the Padres, but suffered a hamstring injury three weeks into camp during a sprinting drill. Wednesday, he got stretched out for his first Tucson start by throwing 64 pitches against the Royals.
"I'm glad they gave me the opportunity, even though I was a long ways away, just to come out here and let me throw and let them see me one more time," Palmer said.
Padres manager Bud Black was pleased with Palmer's outing. "Glad to see him back on the mound," Black said. "We wanted to give him a look this spring. Unfortunately, he had the hamstring injury that hampered him. But it's good he starts the season healthy in Tucson."
Royals starter Luis Mendoza allowed three runs (none earned) in 2 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two.
The Padres scored all three runs against Mendoza in the second inning. Kyle Blanks led off with a double, and scored after a fielder's choice and error. With two outs, Will Venable hit a two-run double.
After Tim Collins struck out his only batter, Danny Duffy came on and struck out seven hitters across three perfect innings.
"It was late in the game and a lot of their starters were out," Duffy said. "That's out of my control, but I feel like I executed pitches pretty well today, and that's what I need to do best."
The Royals scored a run on Billy Butler's double in the fourth inning, following an error. Kansas City scored two runs in the fifth and three runs in the sixth against Padres' Minor Leaguers.
In the sixth inning, the Royals' Terry Evans hit a two-run home run and Mario Lisson hit a solo home run off of Jerry Sullivan, who allowed five runs in two innings.
For the Padres, Eddy Rodriguez smacked a solo home run off of Francisley Bueno in the seventh inning to cut the lead to 6-4.
The Royals added a run in the ninth, though the Padres would cut the final score to a single run by adding two of their own.
Up next for Royals: There's a late-afternoon workout at Angel Stadium on Thursday, a chance to get acquainted with the surroundings for Friday night's season opener against the Angels. Left-hander Bruce Chen will start against Angels right-hander Jered Weaver in the 9:05 p.m. CT inaugural.
Sarah Trotto is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.